Analysis | Opinion

Top Fund Official Briefs Govt On COP23 Logistics

ANALYSIS:Australian Howard Bamsey, newly appointed executive director of the Green Climate Fund (GCF), yesterday briefed Government in Suva on COP23. He travelled to Suva on Government’s invitation as its preparation
23 Dec 2016 14:39
Top Fund Official Briefs Govt On COP23 Logistics
From left: Permanent Secretary for Foreign Affairs Robin Nair and Permanent Secretary in the Prime Minister’s office Yogesh Karan

ANALYSIS:Australian Howard Bamsey, newly appointed executive director of the Green Climate Fund (GCF), yesterday briefed Government in Suva on COP23.

He travelled to Suva on Government’s invitation as its preparation for COP23 began in earnest.

The meeting was attended  by Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama, Attorney-General and Minister for Economy Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, Permanent Secretary for Foreign Affairs Robin Nair, Permanent Secretary in the PM’s office Yogesh Karan, Permanent Secretary for Economy Makereta Konrote and Permanent Secretary for Local Government, Housing and Environment Joshua Wycliffe. Absent on leave was Permanent Secretary for Civil Service Bernadette Welch.

This is the initial planning group for COP23.

It is understood that Mr Bamsey briefed Mr Bainimarama and his team on the logistics and administrative challenges of the Fijian presidency of COP23.

It is recognised that this is a mammoth task and Government is consulting highly specialised professionals in climate change to help it plan for COP23.

Basically, Fiji’s responsibility is to put in place the necessary and relevant machinery to enable countries to implement the provisions of the Paris Agreement.

The agreement has been signed and ratified in Paris and the follow-up meeting of COP22 in Marrakesh, Morocco.

The next phase is the implementation  and that is regarded as the most difficult part of the process.

Mr Bainimarama  does not want  any hiccup when COP23 happens in Bonn, Germany, next year.

Other consultants are expected to be called in to advise Government early next month before the substantive planning meeting later in the month. That meeting will basically draw up the programme for the secretariat in Bonn. From then on it’s all systems go. Ovini Ralulu, the director of Climate Change Division, Strategic Planning office of the Ministry of Economy will be attached to the United Nations Framework for Climate Change Convention secretariat in Bonn for COP23.

Mr Bamsey’s contribution is vital to the preparation phase. He also holds the purse strings for GCF. He also would have explained the requirements that needed to be fulfilled to access climate change funding.

His appointment has raised hopes that Fiji and other small island states in the Pacific will get a better response from him because he understands the Pacific better than his predecessor.

Mr Bamsey developed climate policy in Australia and around the world.

He co-chaired the United Nations “Dialogue on Long-term Co-operative Action on Climate Change” and served as Australia’s special envoy for climate change during the country’s brief climate hawk period under the leadership of Kevin Rudd.

Commenting last year on the future of the UN climate negotiations, he said: “The fund must succeed and be seen to succeed to keep developing nations in the game.

Otherwise, the future of international co-operation on climate change will be in jeopardy,”

The GCF was set up as a major channel for the rich countries to provide assistance to the poor countries to cope with climate change.

Already US$10bn have been donated. But accessing it has been difficult.

Many countries including Fiji have been frustrated because of the complicated nature of the application.

Mr Bamsey succeeds Héla Cheikhrouhou, the fund’s first executive director, who is now Tunisia’s minister for energy, mining and renewables.

Many are hoping that he will make changes that will enable reasonably easy access to the fund.

Fiji’s High Commissioner in London, Jitoko Tikolevu, said the process of applying for climate funds was “very cumbersome”.

“We need to be trained how to access the money. It’s one thing having it available, it’s another getting access to it.

“We have many climate adaptation projects identified, to move villages and other settlements, but they depend on getting climate money. We know what we need to do, but to do it we need to understand the process,” he said.

Mr Bamsey was, until recently, Deputy Secretary of Australia’s Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency, and Australia’s Special Envoy on Climate Change.

He is one of Australia’s most experienced negotiators, playing a key role in international climate change negotiations.

Mr Bamsey was Deputy Secretary in the Department of the Environment and Water Resources from 1997 to 2002, and head of the Australian Greenhouse Office until 2006.

Mr Bamsey travelled to Fiji from Samoa where he attended the first GCF board meeting in a Pacific small island country to see and experience first hand the climate change realities facing the region.

The meeting also looked at ways of helping countries fill the application forms by simplifying them.




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